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Once upon a time… for that is how all stories must start, although there is always something before, and so it is also how all stories must end… Once upon a time there was a maiden who lived near a deep dark forest, a maiden named Rose.

When Rose was very small she would slip away into the forest and come home with twigs tangled in her hair and a silent smile upon her face. Her mother would ask her why she loved the forest so, and she would simply smile and shake her head.

One day, however, a sad thing happened. Rose stopped going into the trees.

All children grow up, and it seemed not in the least bit strange that she ceased her wandering home with twigs and leaves and moss entwined in her locks, and instead would come home with red lips and green eyeshadow.

And so Rose grew up.

She married, and they moved into a little cottage by the forest, next door to her parents. Sometimes, though, her beloved husband would catch her gazing sadly out of the window into the dark green leaves, but she never said why.

One day little Rose, who was not so little now, was ironing, or washing, or cooking, or somesuch chore as adults have to do but that seem never to be finished, and she heard a voice from outside the window.

A voice calling… singing… laughing…

And she ran outside (and I cannot remember if the dinner burned or the washing was left undone, for it really doesn’t matter today) and there, disappearing into the forest was a half-forgotten figure, a slender girl as green as grass and as naked as a newborn, with sunlit hair and the shadow of wings on her shoulders.

And Rose, of course, followed.

She followed the green-girl through the trees and as her feet felt the forest floor for the first time in forever, she remembered why she used to smile as a child.

And the green-girl stopped, and turned, and smiled.

And disappeared.

And Rose returned to the cottage, several hours later, with twigs entwined in her unbound hair, earth between her toes, and a silent smile on her lips.

And every now and again, still, though her hair is now grey and her feet less sure, she will kick off her shoes, unbind her hair, and slip into the forest to find her silent smile.

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